Colour in Design

In this session Lucy talked to us about the importance of colour in design work. When designing, you need to consider: materials used, production process, surface patterns and colour. In a shop, you have 3 seconds to gain a customer’s attention, then 30 seconds to keep their attention. Colour is important to gain the customer’s attention!

When choosing a colour palette consider: the aesthetics of the collection, the intended season and the sensation you want to create for the customer.

HUE – What colour something is.

CHROMA – Purity or intensity of colour.

SATURATION – The strength or weakness of a hue.

VALUE – How light or dark a colour is.

TONE –  Adding grey to a pure hue.

SHADE – Adding black to a pure hue.

TINT – Adding white to a pure hue.


Different colours can portray different themes. For example:

Blue – calm, sad, responsible

Green – nature, harmony, peaceful

Orange – energy, happy, creative

Yellow – cheery, optimistic, joy

White – purity, cleanliness, virtue

So, if you are given a brief from a brand, first you must consider the brands personality and then consider your colours.

Colours can have completely different meanings to everyone (eg. red: love or anger) so this must be considered especially for a global market.


MONOCHROMATIC – Single base hue with added tints or tones.

ANALOGOUS – Groups of 3 colours that are next to eachother on the colour wheel.

COMPLEMENTARY – Colours on opposite sides of the colour wheel.

SPLIT COMPLEMENTARY – Using the two colours either side of the complementary colour on the wheel.

TRIADIC – Using every fourth colour on the colour wheel.


When creating artwork on Photoshop or Illustrator ensure your colours are set to:

-RGB if your artwork is going to be viewed on a screen

-CMYK or PANTONE if your artwork is going to be printed

To view the PANTONE colours open the swatch library, select ‘colour books’ and then ‘PANTONE SOLID’


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